The latest fleet of Royal Navy helicopters is missing a fairly important piece of technology when it comes to communication – the ability to transmit data from the air.
Despite the new Leonardo Wildcat helicopters being deployed two years ago and being in service at home and overseas, they still do not have a tactical data link (TDL) capability.
This means the crew have to wait until they land to share any data collected by the helicopter’s radar or camera. They have to rely on USB sticks to transfer that information to other units on the ground.
According to The Register, the Wildcat HMA2s are reportedly fitted with a secure voice radio system, so there is also the other option of delivering live data by speaking over the system.
Lieutenant Commander Anthony Johnson, of 825 Naval Air Squadron, told Air International magazine: “At present, we have to download everything our systems produce on to some form of media and present this when we land.
“We cannot currently transfer this data electronically whilst airborne, so we continue to use voice communication.”